Teen gets 7 years in prison for apartment complex shooting

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

May 1, 2013 at 12:01 a.m.

The teen who police say shot two passers-by at a Victoria apartment complex earlier this year will spend the next seven years behind bars.


Benivamonde, 18, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. A judge handed down two seven-year terms, which will be served at the same time.

Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison.

Victoria County Criminal District Attorney Stephen Tyler did not know why Benivamonde's sentence was in the low to middle punishment range.

He said the prosecutor could have hashed out the agreement that way if Benivamonde didn't have a prior criminal history, if there were witness issues or if Benivamonde cooperated in some other legal matters.

Pink Dickens, an assistant district attorney, was assigned to the case, according to the Victoria County District Clerk's Office. Neither he nor defense attorney Lee Lewis could be reached for comment Wednesday.

Victoria police officers arrested Benivamonde at the Crestwood Apartment complex on Jan. 7.

He was staying at his aunt's, Rosemary Silvas', apartment when the victims told dispatchers he shot them while they were driving past in a tan truck. Both of the men were wounded.

One of the victims, Joseph Ray Pena, had been taunting Benivamonde for a while, Silvas said.

"All he was trying to do was protect his family. That's all," she said.

Silvas said that if detectives questioned the people willing to testify on behalf of Benivamonde's character, they would have figured that out.

Pena, however, denies threatening Benivamonde. He said he was just in the area to search for his dog, which disappeared after his home was burglarized the night before.

Benivamonde could not claim self-defense at trial because he brought a gun to the argument. It doesn't necessarily matter what the argument was about, Tyler said previously.

"I just don't see that as a solution to anything," Tyler said Wednesday about the incident. "It might vent anger at best in a non-constructive way, but what is solved by that?"



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